Career Center board discusses finances

A projected increase in base state aid for the Washington County Career Center under Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s new school funding proposal will likely be offset by changes to other parts of the system, according to career center administrators.

Projections released by the governor’s office last week show the base funding for the Career Center rising by 25 percent – to $2,593,739 – in the first year under Kasich’s “Achievement Everywhere” plan, designed to address the state’s unconstitutional school funding system by directing more money to less wealthy school districts. But Career Center Treasurer Joe Crone said projections indicate that weighted funding, which is based on full-time equivalency and the type of classes taken, is expected to drop by about 44 percent under the new system.

“It looked initially that we were going to benefit greatly from the governor’s proposal,” Superintendent Dennis Blatt said during Thursday’s Career Center board meeting. “Our base funding is increased, but our weighted funding is less.”

Crone said there has not been enough information released on the weighted funding for him to know what the actual numbers will look like, but he’s not counting on being half a million dollars up in funding next year. Besides, the governor’s plan still has to make its way through the General Assembly, so there’s no telling what the final product will look like.

“This process, I don’t look to be resolved until mid- to late June,” Crone said.

Blatt attended the Jan. 31 meeting of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators in Columbus, where Kasich first outlined the plan. Optimism about the plan for most local superintendents turned to frustration when the projections were released a weak later and 60 percent of districts saw no increase in funding.

Joint vocational district funding is determined by a separate formula. While Blatt acknowledged the disappointment of some local superintendents, he said he appreciated the governor’s support of career and technical education in general.

“It felt very good being there as a career-technical superintendent, because the governor feels very positive about what he calls vocational education,” he said.

In other business, the board voted 5-0, with President Larry Holdren and member Karen Burton absent, to give Crone a nearly 11 percent annual pay raise and extend his contract an additional five years.

Effective March 1, Crone’s new annual salary is $72,000. His current contract runs through July 31, 2014, and the extension takes that through 2019.

“He’s doing a great, great job,” board Vice President Neil Huck said. “He’s saving us more money than what he’s getting.”

Crone told board members earlier in the meeting that spending for the year had been cut so far by 1.5 percent, due to a lot of small steps that were adding up, like savings on upgrades to technology. After the meeting, he said successes from a financial perspective over the last two years have been the result of great teamwork.

“I appreciate the opportunity to continue the good work that everyone is doing at the Career Center,” he said.